By Jennifer Eastman – @eastmanj
Last week I attended the Personal Branding @ Work event that was held in the Cambridge Innovation Center on Wednesday—featuring Dan Schawbel and Dan Zarrella. In addition, the presentation’s panel was moderated by Stever Robbins and included SHIFT’s own Doug Haslam, Sarah Long of Soundbridge Group, civil litigation lawyer David Barrett and financial specialist CJ Bowker. I had never heard any of these presenters speak before, and as a whole, the event raised some interesting issues that I hadn’t given thought to before.
One of the most dominant topics of the panel was about who owns your contacts and relationships—especially in a world where our personal and professional lines are blurred—when you leave a company. As the debate goes, social media has enabled us to build our own brands based on both the personal and professional lives we lead, and removed any barriers we’ve previously had. Perhaps we have a personal relationship that becomes a client or customer at some point—so if you leave the company, exactly who owns the relationship? And at what point does a non-compete come into play if there is no existing contract in place about these interactions.
It’s an unprecedented time for companies and employees that are getting more involved in social media initiatives. From a PR perspective, and while we can’t counsel clients from a legal standpoint, I think it’s an important issue for us to be aware of. We often counsel our clients on how to develop social media/social networking company policies. In addition, when we think about how we build a company’s brand online, we should be aware of the personal brands from within the company, whether prolific or not, what this means for the individual, the company and in any future departure. I personally think that while for some companies this may become more a legal matter, the debate of owning contacts, friends and followers will calm down—much like the initial hesitations to blurring personal and professional lines.
One of the most interesting parts of the evening, was a presentation by Dan Zarrella—a self-proclaimed Social Media Marketing Scientist and Hubspot employee. With all of these emerging social media tactics, everything is fairly new, the future remains to be unforeseen and to a degree we’re all in trial and error mode. But in the very near future—and really these are conversations we’re having externally and internally at SHIFT—we are going to have to be able to prove our tactics, ideas and strategies beyond case studies. This is especially true for the traditional businesses that may still be hesitating on the sidelines of social media—they want to see the numbers in order for them to make a business case.
His presentation included countless formulas, stats and graphs that identified what works and what doesn’t—particularly for Twitter. From what words get the most re-Tweets to the time of day one should Tweet to get the most number of re-Tweets. He examined words and links in Twitter bios and how this compared to their number of followers. The reality is there was so much new and valuable information in the presentation I had trouble keeping track of it all. Social Media is still new, and the hard and fast true facts about best practices are still volatile—but the initiative Dan has taken to try to at least start to make sense of it all, will likely become a huge part of how we counsel our clients in the future.